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July 15, 2024

Dear Customer

By Carol Ritz

Dear Customer, I am not a babysitter. Do not leave your child unattended. I will make you purchase whatever he or she destroys. Yes, that book costs sixty dollars. If you don't have the money, I will sell your child to the gypsies.

Dear Customer, That is a bargain book. It costs $2.99. It is from the pile outside. It has been rained on, snowed on, and fondled by hundreds of people. That is the reason it is $2.99. No, you will not get a discount.

Dear Customer, If you must call me something to get my attention, proper forms of address include my name, miss, or ma'am. Improper forms of address are honey, darlin', sweetcheeks, and lil thang. We are not in the South, and I am not related to you. If you insist on using an affectionate nickname for me, I will use one for you. My personal favorite is "d--khead".

Dear Customer, If you do not know the title, author, or approximate publishing date of the book you seek, do not ask me to look it up. We do not organize books by color. Telling me "it's green" will cause me to put my head in my hands and sob quietly. I can and have found books on that little information. That doesn't mean I enjoy the challenge.

Dear Customer, If your child needs to read a book for class, purchase the book the day the teacher informs the class of it. If you wait until the week the book is due, we will not have a copy of it in stock. Nor will any of the ten other bookstores in the area. Why? Because all the intelligent students and parents bought their copies a month ago. We are sold out. We will not get another copy in time for the test. We can order a copy for you, but it will take about a week. No, it will not be here in two days. I don't care if your child needs to study. I will hang up the phone and laugh at you.

Dear Customer, There is a sign here that says "line forms at other end". There is a sign there that says "line forms here". If you attempt to stand in line at the wrong end, I will ignore you. I will assist the next customer that is in the proper line, regardless of whether you have been waiting longer. When you get indignant, I will point out the sign, and then make you get in the end of the line. When you get to my register, I will pretend I've never seen you before.

Dear Customer, If you are going to purchase a book titled "How to Declare Bankruptcy", and pay for it with a credit card, I will help you without a twitch. Afterwards, I will collapse in the breakroom and howl with laughter.

Dear Customer, The handicapped parking spaces are for handicapped customers. If you choose one of those spaces in which to park your shiny silver Porsche, then you leap out of your car and jog to the front door, I will assume that you are handicapped in one of two ways. You are either an idiot, or an asshole.

Dear Customer, When I ask "How are you today?", I'm not really interested. My company pays me to be nice to you. I do not want to hear about why you are looking for a particular book. I do not want to know about your colitis, your bleeding ulcer, or your mysterious rash. I am not interested in the details of your divorce, or how your brother's girlfriend is an evil whore. Talk to your therapist. I do not care.

Dear Customer, I am not wearing my name tag, I have a cigarette in my hand, and I am headed for the front door. I am on lunch. I am not on the clock. I will not help you find "just one thing". If I help you, then I end up helping three other people. I will lose twenty minutes of my lunch break helping you with "just one thing". That makes me cranky. Do not make me cranky.

Dear Customer, Know the tastes of the person you are shopping for. If you don't, buy a gift certificate. It does not thrill me to spend thirty minutes with you, helping you decide which CD to buy for your son. I do not know the difference between Ja Rule and Jay-Z. More to the point, I do not care. If you ask me to pick something out, I will hand you one of three CDs. Great Big Sea, Rammstein, or Carmina Burana. If your son enjoys French-Canadian sea shanties, German industrial death thrash, or loud operas, he'll wet himself with excitement. Otherwise, he'll return that CD within a week.

Dear Customer, KEEP. AN. EYE. ON. YOUR. CHILD. I picked your daughter up and wandered around the store with her for TEN MINUTES before you noticed she was missing and went looking for her. If I were a kidnapper, I could have been on my way to Vermont before you realized she was gone. Staple your kid to your back, if you have to, but do not let her roam. The world is not a safe place.

Dear Customer, Don't hit on the employees. They will page me. I am almost 6 feet tall, and have shoulders like a linebacker. I do not intimidate easily. I will walk right into your personal bubble and stare into your rat-like little eyes while asking the employee if you are bothering them. You will get flustered and leave. And I will laugh hysterically at you on your way out.

Dear Customer, Do not claim that you are a valued customer and that you should get special treatment. I know all of our valued customers, by face, name, familial relationships, shopping favorites, and prefered coffee drink. I will bend every single rule for them. I have never seen you before in my life. You are not a valued customer. I kiss their asses. I will kick yours.

Dear Customer, The only reason I kept a register open until twenty minutes after closing was because you were spending $1400 on children's books and videos. I wanted to make sales for the day. I am not interested in your anniversary plans or your gifts for your grandchildren. Pay and get out. I want to go home.

Dear Customer, When you come back three days later and return all $1400 worth of product, rest assured I'm going to ask why. When the answer is "my wife wouldn't let me keep them", I will bite through my lip to keep from laughing at you. And then I'll add your wife to my list of heroines.

Dear Customer, Don't read Playboy in the children's department. I'll throw you out. That's just disgusting.

Dear Customer, Do not argue with me over where a section "used to be". Astrology has never ever been upstairs. You ARE correct in that it used to be next to the elevators. That was downstairs. Not upstairs. It wasn't there "last year". I've worked here for five years. I know where the section is now, where it used to be, and where it's going to be. Shut up.

Dear Customer, If you can't spell the author's name, don't expect me to be able to find him in the computer. Unless our data-entry people have the exact same spelling idiocy that you have, I won't find that obscure lunatic fringe 1965 treatise on vitamin B and its effect on ESP. It's probably out of print, if you didn't just make it up in your pot-riddled head. Good luck with that one. Freak.

Dear Customer, I am holding my temples because of you. I am trying not to cry because of you. I have developed a migraine because of you. The LOUD registers, the unbearably long John Coltrane cd, the screaming child at the desk, and the paging of employees have all combined to make my eyeballs want to leap from my head and run into a dark room. This is NOT when you say "having a hard day, huh?" There's a reason they don't let me come armed to work. Stabbing customers is bad publicity. But I'll make an exception for the next person to say that to me.

Dear Customer, There's a song I'd like to sing to you. o/` Don't stand.... don't stand SO.... Don't stand SO close to me o/` In other words, this is my dance space, that is your dance space. Move into my personal bubble again, and I will slap you. This IS your warning.

Dear Customer, There is a right way and a wrong way to get my attention. The right way includes some form of "Miss, can you help me?" The wrong way includes snapping your fingers, whistling, or saying "Service!" I am not a dog. Treat me like one, and I will bite you.

Dear Customer, My company requires that I ask you for an email address when you are at the registers. I don't care if you provide one or not. Say yes and give me your email, or say no and let me tell you the total. Don't stare at me like I've just asked you to donate a kidney to Satan. Move the line along.

Dear Customer, Do not think you can embarass me by asking where the porn is. I will ask you if you prefer straight, gay, bi; vanilla, kinky, fetish; pictures, articles; contemporary, classic. After making you tell me EXACTLY what kind of porn you are looking for, I will direct you to it. Loudly. I hawked at a renfaire. I can project for a half-mile.

Dear Customer, If I told you that we are sold out of a book, we are sold out. It was on Oprah. There are no copies in the state of New York. It is sold out. Do not tell me to go in the back and "look again, missy." I will go into the back, sit in a chair, check my email, chat with another clerk, and flip through a magazine. I will come back out in ten minutes and tell you that we are still sold out. Try to be more civil to me, and perhaps I'll tell you when we're going to get more copies.

Dear Customer, We make announcements at 10 pm every night informing you that we close at 11 pm. We make announcements every fifteen minutes thereafter. At 10:45, we start making announcements every five minutes. We are *closing*. Do not wait until 11 to come to the registers with a three foot stack of books. I have already closed down the last register so that I can count the till and do my other closing duties in order to be home before midnight. Don't tell me you didn't hear any announcements. You're lying. You will have to wait until tomorrow to buy those. And I'm not sorry, even if I tell you I am. I lie too.

Carol Ritz has a hometown that isn't there, a grandfather who doesn't exist, and a roommate who is invisible to all vehicles except SUVs. This has affected her writing more than is sane. When not chewing her pencils into tiny yellow bits, Carol likes to get tattoos, surf the web, and make avatars for her journal. She is owned by a calico cat who believes in spontaneous violent love, and who takes a vicious amusement in causing Carol to spill her coffee. Carol's reading addiction is sustained by her job in a large bookstore, and one day she will discover how to mainline a novel.
Article © Carol Ritz. All rights reserved.
Published on 2004-06-26
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